There are some undeniable truths about New York: The pizza is the best; the subways will drive you batty (but at least they contain poetry); the apartments could always be a little bigger. On this last point, we have good news—because nothing makes a bigger difference, even in tight quarters, than a chic and decadent-smelling candle. And these locally made wax-and-wick brands are among the chicest in town, whether you like your ambience warm and woodsy or fresh and floral. Care to sniff around?
The Red Hook–based fragrance brand is most notable for its Charcoal line, a series of products containing notes of cedar, sandalwood, smoky amber, and oud (a musky scent from the Southeast Asian agar tree), with matte packaging that brings to mind the volatile material itself. Other notable fragrances include Hinoki Lavender, in which Japanese cypress and lavender blend with lotus flower and sandalwood; Sea Salt Grapefruit balanced by “dewdrop accords” and tarragon; and Canvas, the ultimate clean scent comprised of linen, white musk, and lily of the valley. NYC stockists available here.
Lockwood New York
A passion project of German-born Carina Liebeknecht turned into Lockwood New York, a full-blown, handcrafted apothecary line designed to be clean and authentic through and through. Her candles, produced in the Hudson Valley, are made from nontoxic, biodegradable wax and come in handblown black glass tumblers. The signature scents, meanwhile, are elegant and simple: Rosemary Geranium, Basil Ginger, and Mint Sage, which are all representative of Liebeknecht’s haute-minimalist aesthetic with a touch of boho. NYC stockists available here.
What began as a line of six flower candles and just as many flower teas has now evolved into an extensive collection of hair care, body care, and pure scents, and yet the candles remain the core of Yael Alkalay’s brand. Each come topped with actual dried and scented flower petals, including Icelandic Moonflower, whose three main scent notes are armose, cedar, and clove; and Japanese Peony, made with clove oil, damask rose, and, of course, peony notes. Red Flower also created a line of candles called Utopia, which includes Spanish Gardenia; does your perfect place smell like gardenia balanced with rose geranium and guaiac wood? 13 Prince Street (between Bowery and Elizabeth Street), SoHo
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Nomad Noé candles are born and designed in NoMad, but their fragrances are crafted with a French mentality courtesy of Corentin Hamon, an alum of such high-end brands as Givenchy, Kenzo, Penhaligon’s, and L’Artisan Parfumeur. Each candle, dressed in a white matte container with a colored accent lid and a bold typeface, is named after a particular profession in the context of a specific city. To name a few, Poet in Hangzhou contains bamboo and tuberose; Dreamer in London smells of cedarwood and vanilla; and Visionary in Esfahan has saffron and rose notes. NYC stockists available here.
Operating from a converted 19th-century garage, the Brooklyn-based fragrance and brand design studio pays unconventional tribute to “America’s explorers, entrepreneurs, artists, and philosophers.” Joya is best known for its cultural crossovers, especially its collaboration with buzzy indie production studio A24, which captures the essence of different movie genres. (Horror, for example, is woody because it’s inspired by a haunted house or a secluded cabin; while Musical is reminiscent of a bright floral bouquet.) Other notable collabs include one with Kings County Distillery (the aptly named Rye and Bourbon candles are influenced by its spirits) and one with the Western-epic video game Red Dead Redemption II: two sculptural candles (shaped like a barrel and a dynamite bundle) that combine notes of wood and balsamic. NYC stockists available here.
D.S. & Durga
The New York–based fragrance brand first rose to fame thanks to its perfumes, which, in the height of the hipster era, honored Americana with fragrances meant to evoke 19th-century barbershops (shaving tonics redolent of spearmint, lavender, lime, and vanilla) and grasslands trodden by cowboys (American sagebrush and prairie switchgrass). In the past few years, it has moved on from Americana and expanded into home fragrances. The candles, for the most part, reflect the general olfactive profile of the company’s perfumes—think: subtle spices, a lot of woods, nothing too cloying—and include interesting concepts such as Concrete After Lightning and Big Sur After Rain; Portable Fireplace, whose name is self-explanatory; and Leipzig Breakfast, one of the few gourmand candles that will actually make you hungry. 255 Mulberry Street (between Prince and Spring Streets), SoHo